Obama's 80,000 Man Strike-Force for Iraq
5:54 PM, Apr 4, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Earlier this week we wondered what, precisely, Obama meant when he talked about keeping a "strike force" in Iraq after withdrawing the bulk of U.S. combat forces. It turns out that he may not be planning to withdraw the bulk of U.S. combat forces after all. Eli Lake reports for the New York Sun:
If there are 80,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of 2010, halfway through an Obama administration, there is no conceivable way that Obama "ends the war" by the end of his first term. In fact, this likely isn't all that different from the role McCain envisions U.S. forces playing in Iraq should he be elected as commander in chief (except U.S. forces would no longer have victory as their aim). So on the one hand, it is reason to hope that Obama really is all talk--that at the end of the day, and in a nod to the fact that he has no experience or background in national security, Obama will rely on advisers like Kahl and Samantha Power, both of whom have said they would counsel against withdrawing U.S. forces, to form his Iraq policy.
On the other hand, this is evidence of stunning hypocrisy and misdirection by Obama on the central issue of the 2008 election. If his policies on the war will not be all that different from McCain's, he should stop ridiculing McCain for saying openly what his own people are saying behind closed doors. To some extent this is the result of a drawn out primary. Once the general election begins, the press will no longer give Obama a free pass on his vague statements about Iraq (the free ride may already be over). Perhaps Obama will take the opportunity to make his long-awaited pivot to the center--but that will strip the Democrats of their favored line of attack against McCain: that he would continue the war indefinitely while they would end it. Not so, apparently.